It was like a nagging itch that she never could quite reach. No matter how happy they were, how much love she felt for him, how content she was in this new life, she couldn't seem to completely relax. It was her damn tendency to over-think everything that was to blame, Lily was sure. She could never just be - she had to continually wonder and worry and look ahead. Lot of fucking good that had done her in the past. Why did she feel the need to do it now? What was the point?
Damn lobsters, that was the point. And the fact she knew that every moment Perry was with her, working so hard at making her happy, at making them work, if she wasn't his...his lobster, then that was a moment he wasn't with who he truly needed to be with. And every moment counted, so much. All Lily wanted, really, was for him to be happy. And if she wasn't it, then... Well, she wanted him to be with who it was.
She had been hoping that once she'd figured out what was bothering her, she would be able to deal with it on her own, without concerning Perry. Christmas, however - sitting there with him, exchanging gifts, feeling like a family, albeit an odd one - had brought home one crushing fact: They were heading towards something. If that would be a life together or if it would be them, as a couple, falling apart, she honestly didn't know. But she needed to find out. She couldn't put it off any longer. It wasn't fair - to herself or to Perry.
This understanding of what she had to do didn't make it any easier for Lily to actually do it. Which is why she'd procrastinated all day - going for a ride on Agrippa, taking Steeler for a walk, pretending to study (and not actually making it past the first page of the book), staring off into space... Eventually, though, Lily realized that the longer she waited, the worse the ache in her chest would get.
Which is why she was now standing outside Perry's room, screwing up her courage to go in. Steeler sat patiently at her feet, occasionally giving her a look as if he knew she had officially lost her mind and was simply waiting to go inside and see his sane owner. Finally, with a deep breath, Lily raised her hand to knock.
Perry, of course, was totally oblivious to all of this. Oh, he'd known something was up, the past couple of weeks, but he hadn't been able to put his finger on it, and he assumed (or maybe just hoped) it wasn't anything serious. Whatever it was, it hadn't gotten in the way of their relationship, as far as he was concerned. Ever since he'd told Lily that he loved her, he had felt closer to her than ever. They were better, their dates had been better, the sex was better, even Christmas had been great...
...Of course, he knew not everything was improved. He was more possessive now, and the way she dealt with other people, especially men, drove him crazy. Their fights, though fewer, had been getting worse again. And there was something wrong with Lily, he knew, even if he didn't know what. He'd resolved to put that all out of his mind, though. It was just the natural progression of a relationship, and he'd already decided long ago not to think about where this was going or what was happening to them. To see where things would take them, and enjoy the ride, which he damn sure was. Maybe it wouldn't last; maybe, God help them, it would. Right now, he thought, things were doing okay.
Which was why, at Lily's knock, he had no reason to think anything but that he was about to have a pretty good night. "It's open," he called, bringing the volume down on the TV. "That you, Red?" He was lounging on the bed in his scrubs and a t-shirt, watching football, a beer in one hand. Oh yeah, it was going to be a good night.
"Hey, Ginger," Lily said as she opened the door. Steeler bounded ahead of her, apparently eager to get away from the crazy lady who had been muttering to herself all day. Jumping up on the bed, Steeler snuffed at Perry's face before leaping back off and running around Carladillo in circles.
Lily, by comparison, seemed to be dragging her feet. Eyes nervously flicking from him to the telly and back again, she attempted a small smile. She made her way over to the bed, giving an exasperated look at Steeler before she curled up on the opposite end from Perry. "Am I interrupting?" Merlin, she hoped she was, so she could just leave and not have to do this. But then, with a quiet sigh, she looked at him. "Because we need to talk."
Words chosen deliberately, because words had power. Because that particular phrase, Lily knew, would evoke a certain reaction and, in this case, that reaction was valid. Because, damn it, she didn't want to be the only one who felt vaguely ill.
As predicted, the words basically froze him where he sat. He turned to look at her, the alarm obvious in his eyes, then quickly clicked the TV off. "Nothing important," he said slowly. "Just the game." Which should have told her how worried he already was -- the game was always important.
He tossed aside the remote and moved to the end of the bed, resting a hand on her back. "Everything okay, there, Red?" All the things that could go wrong were already going through his head. Cancer. She was cheating on him. She had some kind of incurable wizard disease. He had some kind of incurable wizard disease. Steeler was dying. Someone had died. Or popcorned. Sirius. JD. He'd done something wrong. She was breaking up with him. Shit. If this was nothing, he was going to kill her.
'Yes, of course, just wondering what we were doing for New Years.'
'Fine, love, let's watch the game.'
'Just brilliant. Oh, by the way, you think we're going to be together for a while, right?'
A thousand things ran through her mind - including the sudden urge to run out the door and then later deny she'd been there at all - but, as she met his eyes, she found herself shaking her head. "No," she whispered hoarsely. "No, I don't think so."
She wanted to reach out and take his hand, but instead she just sighed and studied his face for a moment. "I have to ask you something. And I need you to be honest. Don't tell me something you think I want to hear, all right?" Rubbing her forehead absently, she hesitated and then said, all in a rush, "Can you see us together in a year? I mean, really together? Outside of, of this?" Her eyes were worried and tired and it was obvious that this question was something that had been plaguing her for a while.
Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Perry knew this tone of voice, he knew this... everything, and he knew what it meant: it didn't matter what he said, because she wasn't really asking. She was telling him that she had thought about it, and she couldn't, and now she was...
"Oh God," he groaned, his face falling, his head sinking into his hands. "Don't do this to me, please no..."
If he'd taken some sharp object and plunged it carelessly into her chest he couldn't have come close to the pain that now seemed to burn its way through her body. So much of her - shite, fucking all of her - wanted to wrap her arms around him and press her lips to his and forget everything. To lock out the world and just be. If they only place they worked was here then they would sodding stay here. Except for this one small, persistent voice that said that anything like that would only delay the inevitable. That there would come a day when they wanted to step outside these walls and then they would either fall apart or they would force themselves to fit; and, either way, they would hate each other, in the end.
Merlin, she hated that voice.
"Perry," she said, amazed at how calm she sounded. "Perry, please." So many times she'd fought for this relationship; now, she was begging him to answer her, to give some idea or plan, to assure her that they could make it work. That they did fit. That, somehow, what they had was going to work.
"Please what?" he asked, and his voice already had an edge to it. Because, God, he knew these signs. He'd been around the block enough to know what this all meant. "Please what, Lily? Do..." He sighed, scrubbed his hands over his face, and sat up, turning to face her.
Maybe he was wrong. Maybe she was just... scared, and needed some kind of reassurance from him. That was understandable. They were in kind of a scary place these days. Hell, he was terrified right now. "Do... you want me to tell you I think things are great and we're going to be great and I don't think we need to worry about the future when we've got such an amazing present right here, right now?" He reached out and took her hand. "Because I can tell you all that, if you want, and I'm not just telling you something I think you wanna hear because..."
He hesitated, his voice growing quieter, more tense. "Because I don't think that is what you want to hear."
Closing her eyes briefly against his tone, Lily then met his gaze steadily. "No," she agreed softly. "No, it's not."
His hand holding hers both comforted and burned. Even though she knew she should probably let go - that you just didn't sit there and hold the hand of the bloke you were hurting like this - the selfish part of her simply grasped it tighter. "I know all that, Perry. Merlin, I know. Things are brilliant. We're happy. It's not...it's not that. I just..."
She took a deep breath. This was completely terrifying for her, so much so that her hands were literally shaking. She had never done this. Not even close. James was the only man she'd ever been serious about and, by this stage in their relationship, she'd known. Mainly because he made it no secret that he fully intended to spend the rest of his life with her. This, though - this thing with Perry - was uncharted territory for her. And yet Lily would always rather just face the worst, would always prefer to simply stare the scary thing straight in the face, than to cower and hide. The truth was always preferable, no matter how painful.
"I'm not worried about today, Ginger. Today we've got covered. I'm worried about tomorrow. I'm worried about a life outside of this place. About what would happen to us in a normal day." A shot of anxiety flashed through her eyes and her voice grew slightly pleading. "I need to know if you can see us together away from classes and dorm rooms and the library and the Wing. I need to know if you think we fit."
Lily's hand tightening on his made everything close up inside him; he felt a surge of sudden hope and, at the same time, desperately sick because he knew that was idiotic. He swallowed, closing his eyes briefly in a wince, but his hand squeezed hers back. Don't do this to me, he wanted to say again. Forget all of this and let's just go to dinner or have sex or something. He would have even called it making love, if she wanted, even though he absolutely hated that term. Something, anything, to keep this from happening.
He looked back at her, his eyes dark, his expression pained, and he gave a bitter little laugh at her question. "Do I think we fit?" he echoed. "Of course I do -- you remember that whole "I love you" thing, right? You do remember that? For God's sake, Lily, I dunno about you, but that doesn't exactly come easy for me."
Jaw clenching slightly, Lily refused to allow herself to flinch away from his eyes. Even while the urge to protect and love and comfort nearly overwhelmed her, that small voice continued to override every other bit of her. "I have loved two men in my entire life," she responded quietly, no trace of anger or hurt or anything but patient calm in her voice. None of the agony that was twisting her apart inside. "The other one, I married. So, yeah, Perry. I remember. And that's not what I asked. I love you - that's not the issue."
Another deep breath - important thing, to keep breathing. She'd have to remember that - and Lily continued, "If you think we fit, then where will we live? What will we do? Are you going to live as a Wizard? Could you give up being a doctor? Or what about me - do you honestly think I could just live as a Muggle? I - I didn't just go to London to shop, Ginger. I left behind my wand." Perry would, she knew, get the significance of that. "I needed to find out if I could give up everything - everything I've worked my whole life for, a huge part of who I am - for you. But...but that's not what it should be, Perry. We shouldn't have to give up large bits of our identities to be together. We should be able to picture ourselves together in a year. In five years. We should be able to see a life."
Now a small measure of the pain that was quickly overwhelming her, was swiftly eating away at her bones and leaving her limp and sick and empty, showed in her face. "I'm not asking for a sodding ring or for us to move in together or even a commitment. I just want to know... When you think of yourself in a year, outside of Hogwarts, can... Can you see me standing beside you? Really?"
Oddly enough, of everything it was the nickname that bothered him the most right now. That stupid little endearment that was almost more normal to him than his own name, coming from her. Wincing again, he pulled his hand out of hers when she called him 'Ginger,' holding it up. "Don't," he muttered hoarsely.
Unable to take her hand again -- and, he realized with a wrench in his gut, that might have been the last time he ever would, just then -- he knit his hands together and let them hang between his knees, staring down in horror at them as she continued to speak. When she admitted the real reason for her trip to London, he simply nodded, grimacing darkly. So there it was. This was what had been on her mind for the last few weeks... this was why she'd gone to London. He was right -- she had made up her mind already, way before she ever involved him.
Perry didn't care. He had to stop her from doing this. "I can," he said, his voice thick and pained. "I can, dammit, I--" He could barely even string the words together. Breathing in deeply, he pinched the bridge of his nose. "I didn't think I'd need to think about this so soon," he muttered, trying to keep together some semblance of calm. "But there's... a clinic in Hogsmeade, or that-- that hospital down in London." Could he really stay in Britain forever? The land without cheeseburgers and good pizza and football? "Or there's... there's gotta be someplace in the States like this, right?" he hedged, more uncertainly. "Come on, Lily, people make this work all the time. People way more screwed up than we are."
While she'd been able to keep calm, to keep rational, through everything else - even though her heart was breaking, even though she was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe - him flinching away from her nickname made Lily visibly blanche. Suddenly, the full impact of what she was doing hit her and she closed her eyes, feeling ill. You never really realize how important the little normal things were until you get to that one time past the last time. Until you get to the day after it was over. And Lily would know that feeling all too well - the same sick longing that she'd had when she realized that the day before had been the last time she'd ever kiss James hello, ever hold her son, ever walk through the door of her home was now choking her.
Standing suddenly, Lily hugged her arms across her chest and stared blankly at the wall. "I don't know," she whispered hoarsely, voice cracking. Then, after a moment where her eyes were shut so tight her cheeks hurt she turned around to look at him. "I don't know." Repeated, but more steady this time. "I've never done this, Gi-Perry. But I know that if we keep on like this, we're going to hit a brick wall eventually. And I've tried not to think about it. I've tried to find ways to push it aside. And, when that stopped working, I tried to figure out an answer. And I... I can't."
Both of her hands pushed through her hair in a helpless gesture. But then she nodded and moved back to sit beside him. "Fine. Let's...let's figure this out, then." Because dear Merlin and everything holy she did not want the other, inevitable conclusion of this conversation. She did not. "I can't leave Harry. Or Sirius - they're my family. So...so I have to stay in Britain. London, probably, or at least just outside. There's a good Wizarding community there. And, once I leave Hogwarts, I'll go to the training school for Healers, but that's only for a few years." Her eyes studied him. "What will you do? Work in a Muggle Hospital?" The unspoken leave behind your entire life back in American? was clear in her expression. How could he do that? How could she ask him to?
He laughed again, the sound desperate. "Give me a break -- we've been together five months and you wanna plan out the rest of our lives? My life?" Now it was his turn to get up. He ran his hands through his hair. "For God's sake, before I came here I was working in the same hospital for fifteen years, now I'm playing clean up boy to some ancient bitch for the equivalent of table scraps," he snapped, gesticulating. "You want a dead end, Lily, this is it right here."
He stopped pacing at the wall, stared at it for a moment, then pressed a hand against it as if letting the cool stone calm him. "So I-- who knows, I get a job at a magic hospital somewhere..." He turned back to her and grinned, the pain evident on his face. "It's not like I got a life back there anyway, right? I don't have family, I'm probably fired from my job, I've got two friends, one of whom has disappeared off the face of the earth and the other's too invested in her baldie boyfriend to give a crap if I'm there or not..." Perry looked down, his voice hoarse. "So meanwhile you're here, Fido's here, JD, even--" The Unspeakable Name. He glossed over it. "Barbie."
By the time Perry and Jordan got married, they had been together for ages, and known each other for nearly eight years. Perry wasn't good at commitment, he wasn't good at change. He wasn't good at moving out of his comfort zone, and even now, even as he said it, he felt like an iron shackle was closing around his leg. Or maybe his throat. He swallowed, hard, and turned back to the wall, leaning his head against it.
Lily sighed and looked away. "No." Oh, God, she felt as if every piece of pain and longing and fear and grief she'd experienced since coming back just resurfaced, right in that one word. "That's...that's exactly my point, Perry. We're not..." She paused and swallowed, then moved her eyes to him, a bitter sort of resolve in her expression. "You are brilliant and talented and amazing and I'm not letting you throw any of that away because of me. Because we're too afraid to think that maybe the feelings we have for each other don't necessarily mean we're supposed to be together."
Lily had started dating James a month or so into their seventh year. Before that, she'd known him, but she'd never really spent any amount of time with him. Well, other than their occasional fights. Less than a year after their first date, they married. She was used to following her gut instinct, to making quick decisions and then throwing herself in after them. And her life had been, over the past decade, one of near constant change, one where she was very rarely on any sense of normal - finding out she was a Witch, coming to Hogwarts, learning new magic, falling for James, deciding to join the Order, marriage, war, baby, death... Coming back. Her new life, here. Falling for Perry. And now this. Change was all she knew.
And so, seeing his expression, listening to him, she wished desperately that she could just Obliviate herself, take away the nagging unease that had driven her to this point.
But it'll just come back, that nasty little sensible voice whispered. And you'll be here again. Only it'll be worse because you'll be in deeper. It'll hurt more later.
"This shouldn't be this difficult! It's not meant to be this way. With James... We fit, Perry. With Jordan, I'm thinking it was the same. Simply because you could picture a life with her, as I could with James. It wasn't a matter of one person giving up everything. It was two people who complimented each other. No, I don't want to plan out my whole sodding life, either. Which is my point, Perry. Which is the reason this has been chasing me around for weeks. When I picture myself outside of Hogwarts..." Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh fucking shite. "I can't see a place where we're both happy. Where we're both complete. I love you, Perry. I love you so sodding much. But I just can't see it." She took a small, shuddering breath and her hands curled into fists, fingers biting into palms as she desperately fought for control. Everything about her was screaming to take it all back, to throw herself into his arms and beg him to forget what she'd just said.
Except that damn voice. But, at this moment, that one fraction of a thought was the only thing keeping her upright, keeping her from curling in on herself from the force of her agony. "I'm sorry," she whispered, then, voice cracking.
Oh God, he was so glad he wasn't looking at her right now, he was so glad she couldn't see his face. He kept his back to her as she spoke and brought his arms up to prop against the wall, resting his head against them, as much to hide behind them as to support himself. Everything was dark, but he squeezed his eyes shut all the same, squeezed them tight shut till he started seeing flashes of color. Till it hurt as much as everything else did.
He listened to her go on, and although the words turned into a blur in his head he understood what she was saying just fine. Why had he even fought this? Tried to convince her? He had known from the second she opened her mouth that this was it, for her. Feeling absolutely sick, he clenched his jaw and swallowed hard, fighting back the rising bile in his throat. His hands, propped above his head, curled tight into fists, joints cracking under the strain.
He didn't care if this was it for her. This wasn't it for him. He couldn't let it end here. He couldn't let her go. He pushed roughly away from the wall, turning back to her, his eyes pleading. "You think me and Jordan didn't have to give anything up? Please, Lily -- I was a hundred thousand dollars in debt at the time, you think her parents wanted her to marry me? A broke, angry jackass with a predilection for alcoholism who was already married to his job? You've met Jordan -- you think I didn't have to give anything up to live with that? That's -- that's the way it works, for Christ's sake, you give up some things and you get others. I've got you. And... and the dog," he said with a helpless chuckle, glancing over towards Steeler and Carladillo. The both of them seemed to understand what was going on, maybe better than he did -- they were both sitting, solemn, staring at him and Lily. Perry shuddered and turned away; the last thing he needed was pity from a Goddamn animal.
Shallow breaths, in and out. Don't focus too hard on what you were doing. Just keep your eye on the exit and don't stop for anything.
Ironically enough, lessons she'd learned during the war were coming in handy now. Otherwise she would have fallen apart under the pleading in Perry's gaze. "It's not the same," she managed evenly. "You know it's not. This isn't you having to deal with my shouting or my incessant need for wards or the fact I always have a book in front of me. And it's not about me accepting the fact that you're always going to rant or think I'm flirting or complain when I make you go to a gathering of more than three people. This is about you or I walking away from a huge part of how we define ourselves. You're a doctor, Perry. That's not just a job to you, any more than being a Witch is just one to me."
Pausing, Lily set her jaw and relentlessly continued, before she lost her ability to speak in the flood of tears she could feel pressing against the back of her throat. "If you can tell me that you can honestly picture yourself in a life you'd be happy in with me next to you in a life I'd be happy in, then I'm all ears."
Perry opened his mouth and started to say something: some... speech, or argument, or even some kind of spell that would stop this from happening. That would make her stop killing him and forget this was happening and stay. But he knew, even as he started -- "I..." -- that it was hopeless. He'd given her his best argument and it hadn't worked. Lily was still pushing him away. She was finished.
He closed his mouth again, and some of the fight seemed to go out of him. His eyes bright, he looked away from her and breathed in deeply as if to ease some hurt inside. "I..." he tried again. "All I can tell you is that I'm happy now, or I was, and..." He shook his head, helpless, sick. "I thought you were, too."
He was slipping, now; let someone in under the armor, let them see the cracks, and you can never keep it up again. His jaw worked, and he had to fold his arms to hide the fact that his hands were starting to shake, as did his voice when he managed to speak again. "I... God, Lily, I thought you were the best thing that ever happened to me," he whispered, staring at the window and trying, so hard, not to let her see him crack.
In everything Lily had ever been through, she had never hated herself quite as much as she did in this moment. Even if that tiny voice was telling her that she was right, even if she'd rather hate herself now than him later, the sour taste of it filled her throat, choking her.
"I am," a pause and Lily winced, voice suddenly becoming choked with the tears she was refusing to let fall, "I was happy. I wish I could just let it be. But I can't. Because..." Her voice trailed off as he continued and Lily actually flinched back as if struck. Shaking wildly now, a small, choked sob escaped her before she managed to pull it back. "Because I'm just going to keep falling more in love with you," she finished in a whisper. "Because I'm not going to be able to help it. And then, one day, we'll look around and realize that we just don't work. And it'll kill me. I...I can't do that, Perry."
Then, suddenly, Lily realized that there wasn't anything else to say. That her life had, once again, been split violently in two - into the moment before and the moment after. Ten minutes ago she'd had an amazing boyfriend who loved her. Now, she... Now she'd lost her best friend. Standing up, Lily quietly made her way to the door. There's was nothing left to do but leave. If she had known what he was thinking, it would have broken her heart even more. She wasn't finished. She hadn't given up. She was doing what had to be done - she was letting them both walk away from a relationship that couldn't survive. And it hurt like hell.
"You are the best thing that happened to me," she said suddenly, not looking back, fingers curled around the door handle. "After seeing my son alive, you are the best thing in my life since I came back. That's... That's not going to change. You still will be tomorrow and the next day and a year from now. Because you gave me hope when I'd not even realized I'd lost it. Because you're...you're my best mate, Perry. I - " But that was all she could say. That was all that would force itself out around the lump in her throat. Clenching her jaw fiercely, Lily pulled open the door.
Perry didn't know how this could be happening. With Jordan, everything had been so obvious for so long that by the time the divorce finally came up it was almost more of a relief than anything. But this... not an hour ago he'd probably been the happiest angry guy at Hogwarts. Now, he couldn't remember the last time he'd been so miserable. And he couldn't stop it from getting worse.
There was simply nothing more to say.
When she finally moved for the door, he was really almost grateful. The more she talked, the more she rationalized and apologized and pleaded with him, the closer he got to losing his mind, and though he knew that was coming with certainty he did not want her to be there when it happened. He stared hard at the window, and when that didn't work he stared at his feet, at the TV, at anything that wasn't Lily walking out of his life forever. He tried to listen for some sound other than the turning of the doorknob or the squeak of the hinges, some sound that wasn't the voice of his life as it was being stepped on and broken, but those small things seemed to fill his ears.
Oh, God, this was really happening, wasn't it? This was honestly, seriously, really happening. He looked up as she stopped speaking, as the door opened, and for a moment he wanted nothing more, nothing, than to know the secret words that would make this all stop. "Lily," he started, pleading, but cut himself off, turning away from the door to where Steeler and Carladillo sat, waiting, confused. Steeler, oh shit... He sighed thickly, his hand once more rubbing over his tired, red-rimmed eye-sockets, pinching the bridge of his nose. He couldn't deal with this, he couldn't take this. He was going to lose it any second now, he could feel it coming.
"Get out," he croaked hoarsely -- not to Lily, but to Steeler. The dog stood, but merely whined at him, puzzled. "Dammit..." He groaned aloud and whistled at the dog, pointing to the door. "Get out," he snapped; Steeler, who knew that tone of voice, obeyed this time, making for the door with his tail between his legs. Perry didn't turn to watch him go. He couldn't watch any of this.
She heard her name. She heard the tone of his voice. And she nearly turned around and... And what? That's what stopped her. What could she say, what could she do?
Oh, God, what had she done? She loved him, why was she walking away? But she had to, she had to because of lobsters and fitting and sugar biscuits. She had to because every day she waited was one more day she fell further in love with him, one more ounce of agony added to when it finally did end. And Lily was now convinced it would.
Perry, who had all the answers, who never admitted defeat, hadn't been able to give her the answer she needed. Hadn't been able to find the solution she'd so desperately wanted. And now she was walking out the door and nothing in her - not even that small voice - wanted to. But she was doing it anyway.
Cringing as he ordered Steeler out, Lily turned around to see the dog run by her. She didn't call after him, didn't bend down to scoop him up and comfort him. Because she couldn't stand the thought of the puppy right now. Their puppy.
Not able to hold it together for one moment longer and yet unable to move, Lily shut Perry's door and leaned against it. Her breath was heaving in her chest as if she'd just run a marathon; her limbs felt shaky and weak.
It was over.
Oh, God, it was over.
She wanted it back. She wanted to be the woman who got to keep the man. She wanted to be whatever it was she wasn't that would let them stay together.
She wanted him.
But she'd lost him.
Just like she'd lost James.
Just like she lost everyone. She was starting to see a gigantic fucking pattern. Except this time there was no war or greater good or green sodding light to blame. Only herself. She was the reason.
Lily sank to the floor, resting her head in her hands and curling in on herself. Heaving sobs wracked her body and she simply sat outside his room and cried. Steeler had disappeared somewhere down the hallway, no other students appeared to be about. She was alone.
Staring at the far wall, he heard the door finally shut. The sound was faint, and yet in his ears it echoed like the death-knell drone of a flatline. For a moment, he had the silly irrational thought that if he could just get a Goddamn defibrillator he could run and get Lily back and-- and bring their relationship back to life.
It was so absurd that it made him laugh, choked and bitter, and that one small crack was all that the impending breakdown that had been hovering around his head, waiting for its chance, needed. The laugh died in his throat and he shuddered, fitfully, and turned to stare at the door, the blood draining from his face.
A minute later Lily, outside, would hear the first of the crashes, the first of what was clearly something fragile and breakable like glass hitting something huge and heavy like stone and shattering into a million pieces. Then the second, then the third, and the accompanying shouts -- obscenities and blasphemes, but essentially wordless, the grief and fury behind them far more than the words themselves could convey.
The first crash brought her head up, tears still streaming down her cheeks. The second made her wince. The third ripped her open until all she could feel was the agony and the grief. Without thinking, Lily was on her feet, her hand on the door to wrench it open, to go in there and shout or snog or do whatever the hell she needed to do to make him feel better. To comfort, to protect.
Except, this time, the thing that was hurting him was her. With a low groan, Lily let her hand drop helplessly by her side. The best thing she could do for him was get away and stay there.
Feeling sick, Lily stared for another second at the closed door, an empty sort of yearning hollowing her out. Then, shuddering at the sound of him in pain - a sound she'd provoked, a hurt she'd caused - Lily turned away and walked quickly towards her room. She couldn't stand there and listen to it. She just couldn't.